My thanks to Duckworth Books and NetGalley for a review copy of this one.
A Pocket Full of Pie is the ninth in a cosy mystery series—the No. 2 Feline Detective Agency but was my first time reading the series. What caught my attention as you might be able to tell was the play on Agatha Christie/and the nursery rhyme in the title of the book and on Alexander McCall Smith’s series in the series title (so so cute). A cosy mystery in an English village is pleasant reading but what makes this one special is that it is set in no ordinary world but one populated by cats (as also I’m sure you can tell from the cover and series) and this was what made me jump at it.
Here we have Hettie Bagshot and Tilly Jenkins, two tabbies who live in a bedsit above a bakery (run by the Butter sisters) and also happen to run the No. 2 Feline Detective Agency. As the book opens, we find Tilly a bundle of nerves for she has been offered a slot on the local radio station, Whiskas FM, to present a show Tea Time with Tilly, on crime fiction and true crime. Hettie agrees to help her with the technical side of things, which is what scares her the most and things go off without a hitch. Whiskas FM is an up and coming under its new manager/owner Wilco Wonderfluff, who is full of plans but he is also getting some presenters’ hackles up by replacing them or moving them to less coveted slots. Trouble really begins to seep in when one of the station’s star presenters, Hartley Battenberg is murdered. While Hartley seemed like a jolly enough person, Hettie and Tilly, charged by Wilco to get to the bottom of things find that there was much more to him than first meets the eye. Soon another murder takes place. Complicating things further, both victims have pies stuffed into their pockets!
Meanwhile alongside, it is around Easter and the village is organizing all sorts of festivities. There is to be a bake-off (judged by a TV cook, no less) in which many of the cats are participating and the energetic Bunty Basham is planning to have cricket start early that year. With the radio station currently operating out of the cricket pavilion, tensions also rise between the three groups.
This was such good fun. I loved the cat-world that Morton has created—a good mix of all things cat and our own. I liked that she’s used a mix of cat touches (like the village’s name Much-Purring-on-the-Rug), some fun (but not necessarily cat) versions of real-world characters (like Pussy Parton, Agatha Crispy, and James Blond), and also some popular culture as it is, like The Sound of Music (a long time since I have seen it but it was fun to be reminded of all the songs).
I loved the two main characters Hettie and Tilly, and thought them very likeable. Each has their strengths and also their own approach towards handing problems and people and it is the combination that helps get to the bottom of things.
The mystery itself was a surprise, and in a good way. Because here there are no puns nor does it belong to the cat world but rather sits very much in the human realm. There is unpleasantness, blackmail, cheating and theft (and of course, murder), so the mystery becomes one that one can really enjoy. As far as whodunit is concerned, one can sort of guess (not immediately, though), but still there are plenty of other secrets and twists that one doesn’t so there were some surprises right up to the end.
Another element I really enjoyed was the sheer amount of food in the book. It isn’t only that Hettie and Tilly live above a bakery which also supplies their meals, but they are pretty much always eating from sandwiches, grills and roasts to teas and snacks, reading the book does make one very hungry, indeed (even more than Enid Blyton).
All-in-all this was a really fun read which I enjoyed very much, and I’d love to explore the other titles in the series as well.
The book releases today, 11 March 2021!
Rekha from The Book Decoder also enjoyed this title. Find her review here